Going on holiday even for just a week requires a lot more preparation for us (living with ankylosing spondylitis) than just packing enough underwear and sun cream! I’ve been away a fair few times since my diagnosis and have learnt a good few tips along the way.
Firstly even if you are a last minute packer you cannot be last minute with your medications! I always order a new batch of all my meds about 2 weeks before I am due to fly and I always take enough to tackle the worst flare I could possibly imagine (I’d always rather come back with a lot than not have enough in a foreign country!). I also check whether the country I am going to is funny with any of my meds. I use tramadol for severe flares and some countries don’t allow it without medical proof, so this gives me enough time to get medical evidence from my GP.
I also am on anti-TNF and in general once I’ve booked my holiday, if it is just a week, I will try to make sure my injection isn’t in that week by waiting an extra day post injection day each month till it is no longer in holiday time!
If it is longer than a week I have my cool bag that lasts 72hrs and my letter of medical evidence from healthcare at home. My injection and some meds travel in my hand luggage so that if my suitcase gets lost I’m not without my essential medications! I also bring my little fridge thermometer and if the mini bar fridge is not in range I just contact reception and mostly the hotel staff come straight away and are very accommodating!
I also call the hotel ahead of time if it’s a big complex to explain that I have AS and ask to be put as central as possible to everything in case of a flare, so I don’t have to walk too far in pain!
I also am very on top of sunscreen, I’ve found even if I burn slightly it increases my pain massively so I usually use factor 50 for my more sensitive areas and an all day factor 30.
Beds and sun beds can also be a source of pain so I try to keep active by going for trips out or walks, swimming and I’ve just started yoga so will probably do that in the mornings to keep supple and as comfortable as possible!
I also bring my hot water bottle and ice pack in case of flares.
Recently also I have been plagued by many many bouts of tonsillitis so have planned with my GP to have a “rescue” pack of antibiotics!
Now usually due to it not being my own bed, the change in schedule etc… I don’t sleep well overnight. I try to make sure I give myself a chance for a siesta during the day to recharge my batteries before the evening, so I can continue having a good time with whomever I am on holiday. That’s the main reason for going on holiday: to enjoy myself, isn’t it?
And with my extra planning I can relax and enjoy the sun, sea and sangria!
So my top tips are:
- Plan ahead: especially ‘the worst case scenario’
- Get proactive in getting anything you feel may benefit you
- Research the destination thoroughly
- Bring medical evidence
- Look after yourself so you can enjoy yourself